Tag Archives: W_Circuit

Duane’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Duane returned in March from a trekking holiday in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How was your experience of booking with Swoop and our partners?

Great thank you, I enjoyed every day of my trip!

I would certainly recommend you and your partners to others, as the information provided to me ahead of time was very helpful. I am also thankful for the accommodations being taken care of, as my Spanish was lacking.

Thanks for the memories.

964

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

I can’t think of any negatives – the lowest points, if any, were the refugios, but I enjoyed my stays there as well.

Seeing the many campers nearby, however, and the fact that most if not all of the facilities in the refugios were available to them, I thought that next time it would probably be better to do a self-guided camping trip (tent and sleeping bag already prepared, so I’m carrying only clothes, food, etc.).

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was at the base of Las Torres, as it was also my 40th birthday, and the sky was unusually clear. I also loved the view of Glacier Grey.

350

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip?

I highly recommend that others spend more time in Puerto Natales, as it is a very charming town. On second thought, don’t - too many people might alter the charm. :)

 

Vicky’s 7 day Luxury Camp W Trek

Vicky returned in February from a Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, based from an eco friendly camp. Here she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘All of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip! Torres del Paine was breath taking – I really hope we have the opportunity to go back again in the future’

How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

Everyone at Swoop was very responsive and prompt – we really appreciated this as we didn’t know much about the logistics of traveling in Patagonia and had never been.  Everyone was very patient with all of our many, many questions. This was very, very much appreciated.  We would definitely recommend Swoop Patagonia to anyone traveling to Patagonia!!

How was your experience with swoop’s partners who ran the W Trek?

We felt that the services from Swoop and Swoop’s partners were fantastic.  The pick up times and locations were clear, and everyone did everything they could to make it easier on us (ie. picking us up at our hostel for transfers, etc.).

How was your W Trek in Torres del Paine?

We really enjoyed the W Trek itinerary! Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the park, wildlife and geography – we were all very impressed.  The guides were very patient with us and managed the group well.  We were worried about pace of the group if it was going to be a large group.  The guides ended up dividing our group of 14 into 2 groups: our group with 6 people (mostly our age) and then the other group with 8 people, who were mostly older guests.  But they would still bring both groups together at the end of the day so we can chat and socialise which was nice.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

The major thing that we would have liked to change is the responsiveness of Swoop’s partners in finalising the booking. It took them a long time to respond to emails, and we did not receive information on our pick up until after we had arrived in Calafate despite sending multiple emails. We had originally asked them about the Isla Magdalena tours, but they never responded until Harriet from Swoop emailed them for us. By then it was about 3 weeks out and we had already booked our own tours through another operator. Towards the end, I kind of gave up trying to contact them and just directed most of our questions to Harriet at Swoop – so I really appreciate her and Swoop’s patience with us.

Another minor thing that I would have liked to change is a little bit more flexibility on the day that we visited Grey Glacier.  The 2nd half of that day – we drove back from Pudeto to the camp and stopped at 2 lookouts along the way that gave a great view of Los Cuernos. There were a few other amazing lookout points along the way that we didn’t get to stop at due to the guides wanting to keep the group on schedule for dinner – it would have been great to have some more time for pictures and sight-seeing, as this was the only day that we could view the massif from this angle.

What were the highlights of your trip?

We wanted to go to Patagonia for the trekking, and I would say that was the main highlight.  It’s hard to pick a favourite hike – we saw amazing scenery everywhere.  I don’t think we missed too much by minimizing time spent in the cities due to our limited travel days.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

Prior to arriving in Torres del Paine, we spent 3 days hiking on the Argentina side. We hiked Laguna de Los Tres one day and Laguna Torre on the 2nd day. The third day prior to our transfer day to the camp, we visited Perito Moreno Glacier and did the mini-trekking activity there.

After we left Torres del Paine, we transferred to Punta Arenas.  We were hoping to do the Isla Magdalena Penguin Tour but the tour was cancelled for that day due to windy conditions. We did do the Seno Otway Penguin tour instead.

From there we spent 1 extra day in Santiago and did a little bit of sight-seeing in the city before coming home.

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip?

Ask a lot of questions and, if there’s time, do background reading on the region.  This was something I had wanted to do prior to leaving but ran out of time.

unnamed (1)

Karly’s Camping W Trek

Karly and her husband returned in January 2015 from their honeymoon in Chile, during which they took a Trek in Torres del Paine organised by Swoop Patagonia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

unnamed (2)

How was your experience of booking your trip with Swoop Patagonia?

We had a great time on our trip with Swoop- it was the highlight of our honeymoon in Chile for sure!

What did you think of your W Trek Itinerary?

We would definitely recommend the Camping W Trek to family and friends who are in very good physical shape (we both found the hiking to be challenging, but manageable). We got very lucky with the weather and were astounded by the beauty of the park.

unnamed

How was your guide on the trip?

Our guide, Mauricio was extremely skilled and knowledgeable, and a great photographer as well! The meals were good, and my husband and I enjoyed great vegetarian food the whole time.

Do you have any recommendations for us that would have improved your experience?

I think my only recommendation would be to have more ways to tailor the trip for less experienced hikers (i.e. more down time, factoring in more time for the hikes to take pictures). Some of this is really just because I felt I could have spent hours at the lookouts, which isn’t totally possible, but I wonder if it would be possible to get a bit more time to take it all in, as the sights were truly overwhelming and unreal. Overall however, everything was great.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

We also went to Santiago, Vina del mar and Valparaiso, and were able to go to Isla Magdalena to see the Penguins when we were back in Punta Arenas.

Thank you for helping us to plan and arrange this fantastic experience!

unnamed (1)

Rob & Amy Trek in Torres del Paine & Ushuaia

Rob and Amy returned in January 2015 from a Trek in Torres del Paine followed by some excursions in Ushuaia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

You guys put together a fabulous trip for us in Patagonia and your recommendations for Ushuaia in particular were spot on.

I don’t think you could or should do anything differently – your communication is perfectly clear and timely and both of your partners receive our highest marks.  By all means I would recommend you to friends and family.

How was your W Trek in Torres del Paine

The W Trek was exactly as promised.  The self-guided version was great for us and was well explained by your partners at the start when they met us at their office in Puerto Natales.  Moreover, they were able to secure dinner reservations for us the night before our trek – New Years Eve – at a fantastic restaurant in Puerto Natales – that’s service!

[Read Sally’s top picks for dining out in Patagonia]

How was the Accommodation during your W Trek?

Our accommodations in Puerto Natales (Amerindia) were perfect, and the refugios on the trek exceeded our expectations.  How did we get a double room for our last night?  So awesome!  The cabin upgrade was so worthwhile. In comparing the price of our trip with other travellers – we got the better deal!

What was the highlight of your W Trek?

Well, crystal clear weather at the Torres – 2 hours of brilliant blue sky while we lounged by the lake!  Wow!

Do you have any tips for other travellers planning a trip?

Use Swoop and their partners in Chile! The W-trek is not a wilderness experience as there are lots of people but the scenery is breath-taking.

How was your day trip in Ushuaia?

Swoop’s partners in Ushuaia did a great job on our day trip. The guide was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, geology and history. It was a little expensive for a day hike but this company has it dialled in!

Did you visit anywhere else during your trip?

We visited El Calafate and did the Big Ice trek on Perito Merino. We also spent 8 days on the Valvilov in Antarctica and finished off with 2 days in Buenos Aires.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

We wish we had made time for FitzRoy – next trip – and, we will contact you guys before we go.

We might have added an extra day onto the W-Trek but it was totally doable in the 4-night time frame you arranged.

Everything else – perfect – thanks you guys! And, thanks for the buffs!  We are wearing them daily back here in Durango, CO  USA!

Cecile’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Cecile returned in January from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

cecile

How was your experience of booking with Swoop?

I was very happy that I planned my trip through Swoop Patagonia and their partners. It was very useful to go through Swoop, as it can be complex booking refugios yourself, particularly when you need certain refugios on certain dates, and in theory there is no availability for 3 consecutive nights (at least I didn’t find any through other companies). Booking with Swoop is also particularly useful for people who have  limited time, it is helpful to have the trip planned by someone else.

How were Swoop’s partners in Chile?

Swoop’s partners who organised my W Trek were very patient leading up to the trip. They answered all of my questions in no time, which was amazing. It was also great that although my plane only landed in Punta Arenas on the 23rd at 5pm, they found a way for me to start the Trek on the 24th at 7am. I didn’t have a guide for this trip, but Johanna waited for me until late in the night to give me my vouchers.

What was the highlight of the trip?

Seeing the sunrise from Chileno on the 25th of December  was my absolute highlight (see picture) although I should have brought my sleeping bag, it was freezing!

Do you have any tips for people planning a trip?

I found it very useful to have an external battery for my camera, a rope to hang my wet clothes on, and waterproof pants and walking sticks. The headband Swoop sent me is also a great item to take with you! Also, the offer of cheap hostels in Puerto Natales is quite wide, so it is fairly easy to go ahead and book these for yourself.

IMG_5265

Fiona’s Trip to Torres del Paine

Fiona & Stephen returned in January 2014 from a 4 night stay at a luxury lodge in Torres del Paine, from where they took various excursions into the National Park. Here they tell us about their experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

IMG_5661

What was the highlight of your trip?

This is such a difficult question to answer. The whole experience was incredible from start to finish. Of our whole 5 week trip from Buenos Aires down to Patagonia, the Patagonian experience certainly takes the crown.

The obvious things that come to mind are the first glimpse of Lago Gray, hearing the thunderous roar of a glacier calving overhead in the French Valley, standing in front of the Towers of Paine and seeing the elusive Puma on our evening drive home after our final hike in the national park.

There were so many more beautiful moments that are less spectacular but equally inspiring. The milky green colours of the lakes, the fiercely invigorating Patagonian winds in your face, the delicate flowers. The landscape delights with an ever-changing presence as your walk, like moving from Mordor to Narnia to the land before time. We are so grateful that we have been lucky enough to make the trip and experience this wondrous place.

IMG_5427

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Chile or Argentina on your trip?

We spent time in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Bariloche and el Calafate before we ventured across the border and into Chile. We loved Bariloche, and spent 5 days hiking, biking, kayaking and eating chocolate of course!

Following our time in Torres del Paine we crossed back into Argentina and headed to El Chalten. We were so blessed with the weather and spent two amazing days hiking here. The spectacular hike to Laguna de los Tres was a really a major highlight for us. I couldn’t recommend making El Chalten a must visit place if your down south.

How well did Swoop Patagonia do helping you plan your holiday, and finding the best trip for you?

 We have to give our whole hearted thanks to Luke and Chloe and the team at Swoop for their expertise, time, and advise both in the planning stages of our trip, and while we were travelling. We are so grateful for their enthusiasm and love of Patagonia and their practical advice. I don’t think we could have planned such a successful trip without their expertise.

IMG_5265

How was your stay at the Luxury Lodge in Torres del Paine?

The hotel was a real treat for us, and totally worth it. The accommodation, staff, food, guides and location could not be topped. We met some amazing people from all walks of life staying in the hotel and really enjoyed sharing their company on the hikes. The staff including everyone from the drivers to the guides were so fantastic – fun friendly and really knowledgeable, and all were totally in love with Patagonia, and so enthusiastic and proud of their homeland. They made superb hiking partners and we loved being in their company. We were also blessed with the most beautiful weather during our whole trip and of course this was a major plus. The groups were small, and the food on our hikes was as tasty as the meals at dinner. I hope that some day we find ourselves back in Tierra Patagonia.

Do you have any tips for other people who are planning a trip?

Tip number one – Talk frequently with the team at Swoop! They guided us in our every move when planning the trip and the advice was spot on.

Tip number two – Just do it – go there! And enjoy.

IMG_5129

Peter’s Multi Activity W Trek

Peter returned in January from a Multi Activity Trip in Torres del Paine where he hiked, biked and kayaked the W Trek. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had a great trip and everything worked really well’

How did you find Swoop and our partners?

I would recommend both Swoop and your partners. I thought your partners in Torres del Paine were great and definitely went beyond the extra mile to help! Their staff were excellent, especially in Chile- super enthusiastic and helpful.

What did you think of your itinerary, is there anything you would change about it?

The Mountain Biking was harder than we expected, and actually, for the non-mountain biker, was probably more of a day trip.

The walking part of the trip was brilliant – fantastic advice –  we could not fault this part of the trip. I only wish that day 2 could have been longer so that we could have made the whole of the French Valley on day 3.

The boat trip at the end of day 3 was a tight squeeze – it might be worth warning people to arrive early – we nearly didn’t get on and it would have been another hour’s wait until the next one!

How was the accommodation on your trip?

We managed on two nights out of three in the refugios once we were there. Lago Grey hotel was a bit chaotic – they kept trying to charge us for pre-booked meals and refused to provide lunch boxes as we had not booked excursions – so bit of a shambles! The hotel itself was lovely, and the staff were very friendly, just rather confused!

What was the highlight of your trip?

Our highlight was the hike on day 1 up to Torres Del Paine – this was on my bucket list!!

froilan 2 glacier

Froilan’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Froilan returned in January from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop Patagonia and our partners…

‘I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia’

froilan horizon

How was your experience of Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop was very responsive, I was very well accommodated and advised even with my “last minute” plans, and the wind-stopping snood sent to me before my departure was a really nice surprise.

I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia.  In fact, since my return, people have been asking how I organized my trip and I have simply told them to Google Swoop Patagonia and that they would not be disappointed.

How was your W Trek and Swoop’s partners who ran it?

My W Trek was absolutely incredible. Our guides, Carlos and Omar were very knowledgeable, nice and really understanding of the needs of each member of the group. They even added avocados to spice up our daily lunch sandwiches (which, as we understood, were fairly plain as they were initially provided by the refugios).

Swoop’s partners had everything planned for us ahead of time, lodgings were more than adequate and the guides were top-notch.  They knew more or less when the weather would be changing (an incredible skill in a place like Patagonia) and we had ample time to reconfigure our clothing to be comfortable long before the change happened. I’m sure my travel companions definitely appreciated it as well. The group itself was a very fun one, and we had a great time chatting away and snapping pictures from the beginning till the end of the trek.

I honestly don’t think there’s really anything to change about Swoop or their partners who ran the trek.

What were the highlights of your trip?

The highlights of my trip definitely had to be the Torres and Grey Glacier, but overall I was very happy with the itinerary that Swoop and their partners set up for us.

froilan 2 glacier

froilan 1 glacier

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?.Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

If there was anything I would have changed about my trip, it would have been to extend it to include Argentina (El Chalten and the surrounding area, but also Buenos Aires)

My biggest tip for people planning to travel to Patagonia: go with Swoop!  And If they plan to do the W as part of a bigger itinerary and definitely need to have bigger luggage, I would suggest they leave the rest of their luggage in Puerto Natales and take a light backpack, 25-30 litres max (3-4 days worth of clothing, and do laundry in the refugios when possible).  They will have a more enjoyable time being lighter and more mobile.  Oh, and don’t forget your camera.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia?

Unfortunately, being short on time, I did not manage to visit any other places while in Patagonia.  The up side is that it gives me a very good excuse to come back.

‘Thank you very much for the incredible service and the great experience.’

foilan lake

Nicole’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Nicole returned in December from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trek and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Tiptop! We did not stop raving about you during the hike and how bloody helpful you all are and integral to getting my head around Patagonia from home.

I wish I could provide some constructive criticism here, but not only do I have no recommendations for improvement, I actually feel that you went out of your way on all aspects.

I certainly have and will continue to recommend you to family and friends without a doubt.

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine who arranged your W Trek?

Fabulous! Our guide Viktor on the W Trek was 10/10. The remoteness and lack of overt tourism at the Torres del Paine National Park was a real treat, especially after travelling North from there.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

Yes, we travelled to El Chalten, Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Salta and JuJu and now find ourselves in Tupiza about to do a 4 day Uyuni tour then to La Paz and Lake Titicaca, Then back to Chile for a 3 day yoga retreat and then home.

Rick’s Gorra Blanca Ascent & Avid Hikers Circuit

Rich returned in December from an ascent of Gorra Blanca in Los Glaciares, followed by our Avid Hikers Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia and our partners…

How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

I have visited and guided in Patagonia on 13 or more occasions over the last 20 plus years… I love it!

Having already asked a good friend of mine (from one of the biggest and most expensive trekking companies) about the possibility of doing hiking in El Chalten with no reply, I accidentally stumbled across Swoop Patagonia during a Google search. They immediately resonated with me, particularly given the feedback from previous customers on their blog, and the fact that they specialise in, and seemed extremely knowledgeable about all things Patagonia.

My experience post trip does indeed confirm that Swoop Patagonia is now my one-stop-shop for locating and linking me to suitable outfitters in Patagonia, so much so that I have already recommended them to my older brother over and above the expensive (non-responsive) opposition that thought it had the lion’s share of the market…!

Correspondence with Swoop was and is very fast and accurate, and saved me a lot of worry about things like connections, transfers, and what would be the best ‘tailored’ experience for me.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Chalten for the Gorra Blanca Ascent?

After a delayed arrival in Chalten due to some problems getting baggage (nothing to do with Swoop) I met up with Swoop’s partners in Chalten who were a breath of fresh air…

These ‘new’ small outfitters seemed very knowledgeable about the Fitzroy area and the appropriateness of difficulty grades and things to do. The team, probably had no idea that I had a long association with and knowledge about the area, already knowing what I wanted and where I wanted to go.  Their suggestion of attempting Gorra Blanca (a mountain that I had passed many times before, but never considered) was novel, and in the time I had available, pretty spot on.

I feel that these outfitters have a great and expanding client base. I will, and have already, crowed about their services – again over and above the other trekking company I had previous connections with.

The guide also had no idea of my background and capabilities, but we soon sorted that out and bonded extremely well. I have to say I was impressed (and I’m not easily impressed) with his professionalism and decision-making.  I was not the ‘normal’ client, and with potentially intimidating credentials he made safe and responsible decisions – looking after both our wellbeing. We did in the small amount of time available the most humanly possible…  and they even turned on the ‘good’ weather and stopped the winds and rain.  I will be writing separately and sending a good show award type letter separately.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine for the Avid Hikers Circuit?

Laura and her team in Torres del Paine were likewise very responsive to e-mails and the organising of bus connections and all my detailed niggling.  I reckon that I’m a pain in the arse as a client and I wanted (demanded) that things had to be spot on because of my tight itinerary revolving around my Antarctic climbing trip.

They suggested a modified, more interesting, and not so often undertaken variation on the famous W Circuit. This proved to be a winner and again the weather Gods shone on the team and trip.

The guide and guide and porter provided were likewise very capable and professional. The small team of 4 (2 clients and 2 staff members) quickly bonded.

The itinerary, food, and mixture of tent versus Refugio was also an up-market and relaxing way to go. Of course I will be recommending this organisation and the guides here also.